With the most recent devastation in Japan (and New Zealand not long ago) showing us how small our global village is, and the deep interconnectedness that pervades everything – we as women have before us a task that is of the utmost importance.
We MUST step up and into our knowing, be willing to learn new skills, and not be afraid to speak our truth and follow that with action. This will often “upset the apple cart” of traditions and what has gone before (mindsets), yet we all know that many of the structures across the board that have been laid down are not sustainable, and haven’t been for a long time.
For example, our home -the earth – in no uncertain terms, is letting us know that new sustainable working solutions need to be created, implemented, and honored as the way that will connect our global village in peaceful and creative relationship/partnership. We all want to survive…but even more to thrive.
I believe that everyone holds a key to creating the shift that is presently sweeping our planet to a more sustainable, socially and culturally just, and empowering world. We can either fight against the changes, hide our face under the covers, or we can ride the wave with determination, purpose, and surrender.
It takes both you see, for it is in the determination and purpose that we commit to – whatever our passion and free expression is – and it is in the surrender or deep letting go, that we find the paths and solutions/resolutions that have been right before us all along. It is here that our most ingenious and committed creations happen. However, this also means that we first have to take the best care of our own beings in order to be sustainable ourselves.
As a long time supporter for Women For Women International I have been aware for a long time that women are at the forefront of global change by first empowering themselves and each other, then their families and communities. Here is another example I came across recently reflecting this stepping up.
In the far away village of Tilonia in Rajasthan, India, where few tourists ever wander, an experiment has begun to bear fruit globally. Established in 1972, the Barefoot College is a non-government organization that has been providing basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities, with the objective of making them self-sufficient and sustainable.
This village is situated in arid land where water is scarce and poverty rampant. Here is what Sathya Saran says about women in this village:
“The women of the village work together with their menfolk towards sustainable development, and also help educate and inspire those in nearby villages to rise above the vagaries of nature and their hardships by effort and education.
Tolonia’s most famous export is the solar engineer concept. Making the most of the abundant sunshine, the Barefoot College has trained its women to set up solar electrified systems that can provide light and power to entire villages. In fact, the 80,000 square foot campus of the Barefoot College is electrified and maintained by the women solar engineers, most of whom have little or no formal education and live within the broad dictates of a rural, feudal, chauvinistic, male-dominated social milieu.
The women engineers are trained to create everything such a unit needs, to help install and run it, and to train the villagers of the receiving village to maintain and run the units themselves.
Going a step further, the Barefoot College also trains women from many other parts of the world to create this cheap, endurable and sustainable source of alternate energy, and how to take it in working condition to their respective villages.
Language and regional differences are forgotten in the giving and taking of knowledge so vital to better living. Women’s empowerment finds new meaning, as Tilonia’s solar-energy-giving-women help light lives across the world. “
These ‘Barefoot solutions’ can be broadly categorized into solar energy, water, education, health care, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment and wasteland development.
So far, the Barefoot approach has been replicated in 17 states of India, 15 countries in Africa, 2 countries in Asia and 1 country in South America.
Barefoot Approach and its objectives:
*Provide sustainable solutions to improve the quality of life in poor, rural communities
*Reduce migration by generating employment within villages
*Provide vocational training to semi-literate and illiterate men and women through the process of learning-by-doing
*Reduce drudgery of rural women and girls by providing them access to education, vocational training, health care etc.
*Empower rural women socially, economically and politically
*Encourage community based, owned and managed initiatives
*Demystify technologies and decentralize their uses to improve their quality of living
*Use and promote traditional knowledge and skills that have been passed on through generations
Dr. Bunker Roy, the creator of Barefoot College, answers this question in an interview on Empowering Rural Women:
What do you think needs to be done by the Indian government to make the environment more enabling for enterprises such as yours?
Between 2004 and 2009, the Barefoot approach of training illiterate rural women to solar electrify their villages was extended to Africa. By this year, more than 100 semi-literate and illiterate grandmothers from 21 countries in Africa will have solar electrified their own villages. Under a unique scheme called ITEC, the Indian government has covered the air tickets and six months’ training costs to each of these grandmothers to come to India.
What the Barefoot College has effectively demonstrated is how sustainable the combination of traditional knowledge and demystified modern skills can be when the tools are in the hands of the rural poor. Our message has reached the far corners of the globe. The respect our community has for the Sun (solar electrification) is really a simple message which is easily replicable in inaccessible, neglected and backward communities all over the world.
For more of this interview go to: http://gulfnews.com/news/world/india/empowering-rural-women-1.635403
This is just one of 1,000’s of efforts across the globe in which women hold a pivotal and vital role. This is also where men and women can come together in equality and work on behalf of the betterment for all.
In one of my favorite stories, Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz stepped up over and over again in spite of her fears, and at the very end found that the bucket of water right in front of her was the key to melting her biggest fear embodied in the “Wicked Witch”.
Curiosity, willingness to engage and collaborate, and perceiving ourselves as an active participant with something to offer will pave the way. I wonder what is right in front of us that will potentiate our coming out of hiding and stepping up?? Don’t forget, it can be simple….
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